She is panting slightly as she digs the mud by her hands glancing here and there every now and then to check if someone is looking. She digs the mud with her toy spade, knowing that her time is running out. They will be here any second. When there is enough space for the box, she buries it in the mud, her hand carefully patting the mud after hiding. She gets up as she hears footsteps and brushes the mud off her frock.
‘Merritt. Merritt. Where are you?’ She hears her father calling her from somewhere near. She braces herself to meet him, knowing she will get scolded.
‘Dad?’ Katy stands by her dad as he reads the newspaper. ‘Can we go to the park please.’
‘Not today.’ Her father says, placing his hand on her head but not removing his eyes from the paper. ‘I have work today.’
‘Please Dad. You don’t have work today. You don’t have to go to the office.’ Katy complains.
‘I said no’ His father said, now removing his hand and turning to stare at Katy.
The five-year-old Katy turns away sadly as her mom comes into the kitchen.
‘What’s wrong, dear?’ she asks Katy, as she made her a sandwich.
‘Nothing mom. Just wanted fresh air.’ She mumbles, as she gobbles up her sandwich.
‘You have fresh air daily, sweetheart. You go to that park with your dad, right?’ Her mother asks, smiling down at her.
‘Yes mom, but I wanted to go today too.’ She protests.
‘Now now, don’t you start whining again. Go to your room.’ Her mother tells her in a harsh voice, her tone suddenly turning dangerous.
‘Fine.’ Katy stomps her feet as she goes upstairs.
‘Don’t you ever go running like that again.’ Her father stands in front of her, yelling at her for running away. Merritt’s right cheek is red and she is sniveling.
Her mother is standing above her, her face expressionless but her lips pursed. Her younger brother looks scared at his father’s wrath.
‘I lost you. I’m sorry.’ Merritt says as she weeps.
‘Now quit this crying. And you will get your punishment when we get home.’
Katy sits in her room her face buried in her hands. She couldn’t believe her father was so mean to her. She would have been okay with not going to the park but when her father is strictly refusing, she decides that she will go to the park alone. She gets up and sneaks out of her window.
Merritt sits on her bed and smiles to herself. She has a secret. A big secret which no one knows yet she can’t wait for people to find out. She had devoted the last month all for the shoe box which she buried. ‘fifty years from now’ she thinks. And then people will know.
She arrives at the park, her steps slowing down. she reaches the bench under the tree and sits down. Surely, someone would come around and ask why she was alone. She should enjoy the ‘fresh air’ while she can.
She starts walking around, examining flowers. She reaches under and tree and see apples there. She jumps for one but cannot reach it. She shakes the tree and one falls down. Smiling, she bends down to pick it and notice the ground uneven. If it wasn’t for the apple, she won’t have noticed it, but looking at the ground closely, she could see that it wasn’t leveled. She wanted an adventure, so she started digging.
Merritt’s teacher had told her about time capsule and she knew that it was a very silly idea to do what she was going to do. But then, she was lonely. The thought gave her relaxation that someday, a young girl would open the box to find what she had put in there.
Katy gasps. She has been digging and has finally found a shoe box. Thankfully, she hasn’t encountered anyone who would ask what she was doing but she knows that she will soon. She has to get home. She gets up, the shoe box in her hand. She puts the mud back in the small grave and returns home.
‘Lully’ Merritt calls to her maid. ‘Get the lunch ready. We have guests today.’
‘Ma’am? Who’s coming? And how many are there?’ Lully asks obediently.
Katy sits on her bed and box. Inside, she finds drawing made by a small child, around her age. The child had drawn a girl with sea green eyes. She is holding a stuffed unicorn. But it is the eyes Katy notices.
Katy digs deeper into the shoe box and finds the stuffed unicorn and a short letter. It was written in a child’s writing.
‘Dear finder. Hopefully It’s fifty years later that you find this. I am a very lonely girl and my parents do not give me attention. I buried this in the park I visited daily. I even present you my beloved toy, the unicorn and hope that your parents treat you well. If not, go ahead and make a box like this for the next people to find it. I hope I meet you and know that you are the person who is the finder. Bye.
Katy is intrigued at this letter and the idea of burying a shoe box of her own.
‘It’s my younger brother, his wife and his daughter. Bless his daughter, I will be seeing her the first time. Brother told me that her name’s Katy. Such a nice name.’
A knock at the door shakes her out of her trance as she stuffs the box and the under her bed and lay down quickly. The door opens and her mother is there.
‘Get ready. We are going to lunch on your aunt’ house. Come on, get up. Hurry.’ Her mother snaps and Katy nods, her idea of a shoe box for the next ‘people’ growing stronger.
Merritt sees her brother and hugs him. Her gaze turns to Katy and their eyes lock.
Katy looks into those eyes and remember the girl in the picture. They have same eyes. Her aunt. The girl in the picture. Her dad. And herself.
‘Aunt Mary?’ Katy whispers.
Her dad lets out a high laugh. ‘Merritt used to call herself Mary when she was young. How could you know her nickname?’ Her dad says laughing.
Katy feels Aunt Merritt looking at her closely.
During lunch, Merritt tells Katy, ‘When I was young, my parents treated me like trash. It was when I grew up did they realize I could be their key to money and they could be rich. I could do the job and they could rest at home.’ She says bitterly. ‘you should never treat your child like that.’ She added to her brother.
‘Oh we don’t’ Katy’s father assures Merritt, but Merritt sees the shadow in Katy’s eyes when her father lies.
When they are leaving, Merritt calls Katy and tells her in a low voice, ‘If you ever do feel lonely, plant a reassure in your backyard or in a park.’ Then she gives Katy a wink.
After they are gone, the fifty-five-year-old Merritt sighs happily that her box was discovered by the perfect person. The one who needed it.
Ken was roaming around in the park, bored by his parents’ scolding’s when he noticed the ground a little unbalanced. He bent down to check what it was, not knowing that it will give him happiness like it had given to the older ‘people’. Of course, the credit of it all went to Merritt who started it.